Commercial property brokers are already questioning Fredericksburg's reassessment process and the notices haven't even hit the mail yet.
City Hall announced this week that the reassessment notices will be late and will now be mailed on Monday, April 2. The final date to call and schedule an appeal before the assessor, Pearson's Appraisal, has been pushed to April 20.
Mayor Tom Tomzak got an email today from Joe Wilson, chairman of the Economic Development Authority, who said he has received three messages from commercial brokers who are "shocked" that the projected decrease in commercial property is only 1.46 percent. Many commercial property owners and brokers have either lost tenants because of the economy or had to negotiate lower rents to keep tenants, Wilson wrote to Tomzak.
The assessor must find out what properties similar to it are selling for, what it would cost to replace it today, how much it takes to operate and keep it in repair, what rent it may earn, among other factors that impact the value.
Thalhimer Senior Vice President Virgil Nelson said emails are circulating from local commercial real estate agents who are surprised by the number the city assessor has come up with so far. Michael Colangelo, executive vice president for Johnson Realty Advisors, sent out an email to local industry members trying to gauge opinions.
"I was expecting it to go down at least 10- to 20-percent," Nelson said. "Some people were thinking worse than that."
Tomzak said that in the interest of the city a "rational non-political discourse on this complex subject" should take place.
Mark Whitley, assistant city manager, said during Tuesday's City Council meeting that he couldn't give exact numbers because the assessor is still working on the numbers, but overall commercial and industrial property is down about 1.5 percent and all residential is down 7.5 percent. The city was anticipating property value decreases in the 12-percent range. Fred Pearson, the property assessor, said he used 2011 and some 2012 sales to compare. Overall decline is about 1.71 percent.